The running back group is one of the most talented positions in the 2023 NFL Draft, with some blue-chip prospects at the top and depth throughout. There are a handful of players with varied skill sets that will attract teams in all areas of the draft, no matter the scheme.
Chase Brown is one of those who has caught the attention of many NFL teams. At five-foot-nine and 215 pounds, the Canadian’s impressive NCAA career included 734 offensive touches during his time at Western Michigan and the University of Illinois.
While Brown’s size and strength have been a concern for some teams, he has shown impressive speed on the field. He was fourth in the NCAA with 1,634 rushing yards last season while reaching 22.5 mph on GPS and is rumoured to run in the 4.4s in the forty-yard dash.
He’ll have a chance to prove those rumours true during testing on Sunday but there is already a family precedent for success. His identical twin brother, Illinois safety Sydney Brown, blew up the Combine during defensive back workouts on Friday, blazing a 4.47-second forty while leaping 40.5 inches in the vertical and 10 feet, 10 inches in the broad — ranking among the best testers at his position.
The siblings were both named All-Americans in their final collegiate season and recently became the first twins to play together in the prestigious Senior Bowl. They are expected to make history this spring, becoming just the sixth set of twins taken in the same NFL Draft in the past 40 years.
“My brother has already killed it at the combine; he’s shown that he’s really explosive, and I am proud of him in every way,” Chase said. “The odds of us playing together are low, but the thought of it is exciting.”
During his formative years, Brown engaged in various sports including MMA, boxing, track and figure skating, which has contributed to his foundation in football. Despite an unsettled home situation that made it difficult to keep up in school, Brown became a football star, which “wasn’t easy in Ontario, where hockey is king.”
The brothers moved from their hometown of London to Florida when they were just 16, attending St. Stephen’s Episcopal School for their final years of high school to put themselves in a position to play NCAA football. They didn’t come from a family of university graduates and without a platform to maximize their athletic ability, couldn’t conceive of a path to a degree.
“The adversity coming from Canada to the States was a huge transition, but it has prepared us for this future,” Brown said.
While in the Sunshine State, Brown won state titles on the track in both the 100-meter dash and as a member of the 400-meter relay team. He originally committed to Western Michigan and played as a freshman, before transferring to Illinois to join his brother the next year. He steadily improved each season, eventually becoming one of NCAA football’s most prolific backs.
Brown’s meteoric rise was sparked by a surprise visit from his mom, who came all the way from Canada for a game at the end of the 2021 season and restored his energy for the road ahead.
“That was during the time my mom wasn’t able to cross the border much and for her to show up was extremely special,” he recalled. “She missed a lot of my games because of COVID and this was huge for my mentality.”
Brown showed he can carry the ball in any concept during the 2022 season but his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield was also on display. It will be one of the assets that set him apart for evaluators.
“That is something I work on every day at practice, in the NFL you have to have that versatility and I am happy I could show that this year,” he said, noting that his attention has now shifted from pass-catching to pass-blocking.
“It is important in the NFL to protect that QB and I have been sharpening my pass protection skills, that’s what I need the most work on right now.”
With the NFL Draft just around the corner, Brown has met with almost every team and several have expressed interest, including the Bears, Steelers, and Chargers.
The siblings have not yet made a decision on the location for watching the draft, but they are certain that they will be together with their loved ones. Brown anticipates that the realization of their achievement could soon sink in.
“I’m sure on the way home it will hit me that I just went through the NFL Combine,” he smiled.